Part of: Angélique Kidjo Perspectives
Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective
with Special Guests
Jon Batiste, Piano and Vocals
Tank and The Bangas
Vieux Farka Touré, Vocals and Guitar
Joshuah Campbell, Vocals
Quiana Lynell, Vocals
Rebecca Arends, Director
Carpenters United Choir
Sheila R. Carpenter, Director
Terence Blanchard, Musical Director
Terence Blanchard is a six-time Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter, composer, and music educator. In 2019, he received an Oscar nomination for his original score to Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Blanchard has been named the first Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
A veteran of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Blanchard is a musical polymath who launched his solo career as a bandleader in the 1990s. Since then, he has released 20 solo albums, composed more than 60 film scores, and received 10 major commissions. Among these works are two critically acclaimed operas commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis: Champion, which debuted in 2013, as well as the recently premiered Fire Shut Up In My Bones. Blanchard has also composed work for Broadway revivals, plays, dance performances, and national orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Blanchard won his sixth Grammy for the haunting main theme from BlacKkKlansman, “Blut Und Boden (Blood and Soil),” in the Best Instrumental Composition category. A recipient of the 2019 BMI Icon Award, Blanchard’s other film compositions include Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X, and 25th Hour, as well as his 2006 post–Hurricane Katrina documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Additional credits include Black or White, Eve’s Bayou, Red Tails, Barbershop, and the recently released Harriet.
Blanchard’s latest projects include his new album, Live, that features seven songs recorded live in concert with his current quintet, The E-Collective. The album is a powerful musical statement about painful American tragedies from the past and present, among them the staggering cyclical epidemic of gun violence. The album is also an impassioned continuation of the band’s Grammy-nominated 2015 studio recording, Breathless.
Blanchard has also worked with choreographer Rennie Harris on Caravan: A Revolution on the Road, which premiered in Dallas last spring. This collaboration brings together live musical performance by Blanchard and The E-Collective, coupled with choreography and dance by Harris and his company along with visual projections, sculpture, and projection mapping by Andrew Scott.
An avid music educator, Blanchard served as artistic director of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (now named the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz) from 2000 to 2011. In this role, he presented master classes and worked with students in the areas of artistic development, arranging, composition, and career counseling. In 2011, he was named artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami. In the fall of 2015, he was named a visiting scholar in jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. He holds honorary doctorates from the Manhattan School of Music, Skidmore College, and Xavier University. In 2018, Blanchard was awarded a prestigious USA Fellowship.
Born into a long lineage of Louisiana musicians, Jon Batiste is a globally celebrated musician, educator, bandleader, and television personality whose musical skills, artistic vision, and exuberant charisma have garnered him the well-deserved title of “crown prince of jazz.” Batiste is recognized for his originality, jaw-dropping talent, and dapper sense of style. He effortlessly transitions from commanding the piano with virtuosic skill to soulfully crooning to wailing on the “harmonaboard” (a hybrid of a harmonica and keyboard) to curating unique “social music” experiences all over the world, whether solo or with his band, Stay Human.
Batiste is a musical genius who delicately balances a demanding schedule on screen and on stage, which includes his role as bandleader and musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to recently honoring Philip Glass with a performance of “Opening” from Glassworks at the 41st Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
Batiste recorded and released his first solo album, Hollywood Africans, in 2018 on Verve, which received critical acclaim from his peers and press, including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Billboard. Executive produced by T Bone Burnett, Hollywood Africans also earned Batiste his first Grammy nomination in the Best American Roots Performance category for “Saint James Infirmary Blues.” With Hollywood Africans being inspired by the famous 1983 painting of the same name, it is befitting that Batiste has been tapped to compose the lyrics and music for a new Broadway-bound musical based on the life and art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Strongly committed to the arts, philanthropy, education, and mentoring of young musicians, Batiste is currently the artistic director-at-large of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and musical director for The Atlantic. His accolades include receiving the American Jazz Museum Lifetime Achievement Award and the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award, as well as being named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list.
Batiste received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano from The Juilliard School.
Tank and The Bangas
Tank and The Bangas blend R&B, funk, spoken word, rap, and many other genres. Combining various musical techniques—coupled with poetic, clever lyrics—they have quilted a unique sound that distinguishes them as one of the most distinctive groups to come out of New Orleans. They unanimously won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest with “Quick,” a riotous single about which NPR’s Bob Boilen proclaimed, “This band combines R&B with hip-hop’s poetry and rollercoaster storytelling, with a flair and alchemy that could only come from New Orleans.”
Since winning Tiny Desk in 2017, Tank and The Bangas released their major-label debut on Verve Forecast, Green Balloon. They have been selling out venues stateside and internationally, including festival appearances at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Newport Folk Festival, and more. Last year, they were included on Rolling Stone’s list of “10 Artists You Need to Know,” calling them “a secular church experience, with freewheeling improvisational chops and positive vibes.”
Tank and The Bangas are lead vocalist Tarriona “Tank” Ball, bassist Norman Spence, keyboardist Merell Burkett, drummer Joshua Johnson, and saxophonist-flutist Albert Allenback.
Vieux Farka Touré
Often referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara,” Vieux Farka Touré was born in Niafunké, Mali, the son of legendary Malian guitar player Ali Farka Touré. Vieux was initially a drummer and calabash player at Mali’s Institut National des Arts, but secretly began playing guitar in 2001. Ever since, he has dazzled audiences with his highly energized performances, and his speed and dexterity on the guitar.
Touré’s self-titled debut album was released in 2007, and included performances by his father and Toumani Diabaté. His second album, Fondo, followed two years later. It was on this release that he presented his own sound; while remaining true to the roots of his father’s music, he also incorporated elements of rock, Latin music, and other African influences.
In June 2010, Touré performed at the opening concert of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. That month he also released his first live album, LIVE. The following year he released his third studio album, The Secret.
Touré released The Tel Aviv Session in 2012, a collaborative project with Israeli superstar Idan Raichel, hailed by fans and critics alike as one of the best collaborative albums in the history of international music.
In 2013, Touré’s beautiful and critically acclaimed album Mon Pays was released as an homage to his homeland—a predominantly acoustic undertaking that transformed into an artifact of cultural preservation.
Touré reunited with Raichel in Paris to record, release, and subsequently tour their second collaborative album as The Touré-Raichel Collective in 2014. The following year, he released another unexpected, genre-bending collaborative album, this time with New York–based singer Julia Easterlin, aptly titled Touristes. Three years later, Touré released his latest album, Samba, hailed by critics as his finest, most well-rounded, and mature album to date. With each new project, it becomes clear that Touré seeks to expand his horizons, embrace new challenges, and further entrench his reputation as one of the world’s most talented and innovative musicians.
Joshuah Campbell is a singer, songwriter, composer, ministry worker, and actor originally from Cheraw, South Carolina—a small hometown he proudly shares with Dizzy Gillespie. In 2017, Campbell won the SC Jazz Festival’s inaugural composition competition in the trumpeter’s honor.
Campbell grew up groomed by Southern Black gospel traditions. His approach to singing—and to improvising with the voice—is holistic, having sung everything from jazz to soul to choral repertoire. He has been blessed to learn from and perform for Vijay Iyer, Yosvany Terry, Esperanza Spalding, and Catherine Russell, among others.
Campbell’s performance practice blurs the lines between genres and never shies away from using music as a tool to engage people to act, to do, and to change. His piece “Sing Out/March On,” a protest song written at one of several heights of the Black Lives Matter movement, raised significant funds for the Southern Poverty Law Center and was performed to honor Congressman John Lewis at Harvard University’s 2018 commencement. In addition, Campbell composed the end-title song, “Stand Up,” for the hit feature film Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo (who also sings the track), Leslie Odom Jr., and Janelle Monáe. Recently, he played Nat Turner in the New York Musical Festival’s workshop of Brother Nat.
Campbell’s background is in French studies, and his thesis recital project on Black American musicians’ relationship to Paris won a Hoopes Prize. He is currently a second-year master of divinity student at Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Like so many other artists, Quiana Lynell was raised in the church. Growing up in Texas, there was no secular music allowed in her house. She knew she was a singer, but it was all about expressly harmonizing in the church choir. Because her local public school had music education beginning in kindergarten, she learned the basics and gained a preliminary understanding of how music works.
But Lynell strived for more. She left home and became the first in her family to finish college at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she studied voice.
In 2011, Lynell started teaching music in an elementary school that was converted into a middle school. She was also gigging and writing music. It was her friend, pianist and educator David Torkanowsky, who told her about a new music department being developed at Loyola University that needed a vocal teacher. Becoming an adjunct professor further opened her world during a time when she was building upon her jazz repertoire and forming her own band.
In 2017, Lynell made her salient mark on the jazz-and-beyond musical world as a wise, heartfelt, warm vocalist whose voice is singular in its soul, intensity, ecstasy, and outright spiritual courage. She played with her trio at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which led to her performing in Poland as part of Terence Blanchard’s Spike Lee tribute. In November of that year, Lynell decided to enter the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. She commanded the finals stage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, wowing the judges and the audience with her vocal prowess, ultimately winning the prize that afforded her the opportunity to record an album for Concord Records. The result—2019’s A Little Love, produced by the renowned Brian Michel Bacchus—is testament to what a rare, mesmerizing artist can achieve on her auspicious debut. A feast of soul, gospel, R&B, groove, and jazz, A Little Love blooms with songs about searching, trying times, buoyant love, deep reflection, and social action.
Founded in 1999, the Antibalas Drummers have toured across four continents, produced eight studio albums, and-—simply put—emerged as America’s premier Afrobeat ensemble throughout the past two decades. Led at this performance by Antibalas’ frontman and co-bandleader Duke Amayo, the Antibalas Drummers comprises the percussion section of Brooklyn’s legendary Antibalas group. This evening’s ensemble features Amayo on the “Gbedu Spirit Drum” from Ife, Nigeria; Reinaldo De Jesus on congas; Kevin Raczka on djembe and agogo bells; and Lollisa Mbi on shekere.
RAREdancework is an nonprofit arts organization that creates a conversation about the world in which we live, relying upon physical movement to sustain a dialogue about how we understand human experiences collectively, individually, and historically through live performances, collaborations, and educational programming.
Choreographer Rebecca Arends attended The Ailey School (Oprah Winfrey Foundation Fellowship) under the direction of Denise Jefferson. For nine seasons, she toured with the Seán Curran Company. Arends was dance captain in Washington National Opera’s production of Terence Blanchard’s Champion at the Kennedy Center, in addition to being in the original casts of both Champion and Blanchard’s latest opera, Fire Shut Up In My Bones, at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Arends was an adjunct professor and assistant director of the Drexel Dance Ensemble at Drexel University, and resident jazz/contemporary instructor for the Sparks Dance Company at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently on the faculty of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. In addition to being founder of RAREdancework, Arends is the director, choreographer, and co-creator of The Unwritten Law.
Chicago native A. Raheim White earned their master’s from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and bachelor’s from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, both in dance performance and choreography.
Dwayne Brown is a native New Yorker. His professional credits include TV, film, and stage, as well as choreography. He is represented by Clear Talent Group and Ramona Pitera.
Anna Noble is a performer, choreographer, and creative director. Recent credits include The Flamingo Kid, Fosse/Verdon on FX, and the 2018 Broadway revival of Rodger and Hammerstein’s Carousel.
Carpenters United Choir
Sheila R. Carpenter founded the SRC All-City Chorale in response to the coordinators of the Lincoln Center Festival, who were seeking a local professional gospel choir to perform with some of the country’s top gospel artists. Since then, she has continued to answer the call for a variety of special events in need of talented gospel singers.
The Carpenters United Choir is the next musical iteration from the New York native. Sheila and her husband, Marshal, are bringing their family together, including their children Kyle, Kayla, and Kennedy, as well as their nieces Jennifer Boone and Candice Norris. The singers debuted as a collective at Antioch Baptist Church, promoting the theme of family through a variety of musical genres, including contemporary, jazz, and pop. They have since performed as part of the High line’s Mile-Long Opera. In addition, the singers have performed across the country at a variety of events and were also featured on Donnie McClurkin’s Grammy-winning album Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs.
Although each of the singers have performed with other artists, this concert is their first at Carnegie Hall as the Carpenters United Choir collective.